The pinnacle of poker at WSOP APAC

By: Jonno Pittock

I’ve spent the past two days in at McGuire Media doing the commentary for this year’s Aussie Millions broadcast with Joe Hachem.  It’s funny, if someone had told me when I dealt the final table of the first Aussie Millions that I would one day be in charge of the event, and then go on to commentate the TV show, I never would have believed them.  But so many unbelievable things have happened to me since then, that this somehow just seems normal.  Having said that, it’s the first time either Joe or I have done anything like it, so I hope we don’t suck.  We are both very conscious of doing a great job and showcasing the Aussie Millions for what it is.  It’s weird hearing your own voice played back at you, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job with it.  You will be able to find out for yourself in a couple weeks when it goes to air on OneHD and ESPN.

McGuire Media have done an incredible job with this year’s production, and have really nailed all the extra pieces that make up the show.  There are several spots showcasing the upcoming WSOP APAC in April and it got me thinking about what this event means for poker in this region. 

The World Series of Poker is the pinnacle of poker, and winning a bracelet is every poker player’s dream.  Let’s make no mistake, poker is about money, but once you transcend that, the only thing that is left is the fierce competition and the satisfaction you get from beating your opponent.  Many players say that they would much rather win a big pot with a bluff than with the nuts, and this is a prime example of this theory in practice.  The WSOP bracelet is the benchmark for that achievement, and denotes to everyone that on a certain day, in a certain poker discipline, that player wearing it was the best in the world.  It is like a boxer who has won a world title – no one can ever take it away from them.  Yet unlike boxing, in poker you will never be a “former bracelet holder”, you will always be a bracelet winner.

I can remember reading old copies of Card Player magazine in the break room at Crown dreaming of one day going to the WSOP in Vegas and making it big, and then Joe Hachem actually went and did it in 2005.  The following year, I went to Vegas to get married and could not believe what I saw.  Joe’s face was plastered all over the town - on billboards, on the backs of cabs and in every Harrah’s property along the strip.  I caught up with Seth Palansky when he was out here for the Aussie Millions and he asked what it was like before Joe won, and if he actually played at Crown beforehand.  I laughed and said, “Yeah mate, Joe was part of the family.  Back then we knew every player’s name!”  Now, things are a lot different.  Poker is a much more transient game with a whole lot more people coming and going.  The pub market has done an incredible job introducing new players into the game, and now with the WSOP brand coming to our shores with the WSOP APAC, that dream of winning an elusive bracelet is now more of a possibility than ever before.  I shudder to think how many players are going to turn up for the opening event of the WSOP APAC series, and am very glad I will not have to run that event.  With 1,338 entries in a similar event at this year’s Aussie Millions, and the introduction of the Accumulator format for the first time in WSOP history, that first bracelet event on Australian soil is sure to break records.  Now that I can actually go in and play at Crown, I may even try and win it myself.  Being the first person to win a bracelet in Australia would be a pretty cool thing to experience.

After watching the clips over the past two days, I can’t express how excited I actually am for the WSOP APAC.  After 12 years, I worried that my passion for the game had started to fade out, but I now realise that this is simply impossible.  I have lived and breathed poker every day for so long it has become part of my DNA.  We started talks with Caesars Interactive back in July 2009, and to see this event about to be realised four years later is very rewarding.  My only hope now is that I can learn enough about how to actually play the game that I might be a shot at winning one of those five bracelets.  We are back in the studio on Monday, so I might talk to a WSOP Main Event Champion about what it takes to win.

Until next time...